Heat and our health

8 Feb 2018 9:53 PMTandem Health
Heat and our health

Conversation often goes….this Summer has been the hottest ‘ever’.

Scorching heat, soaring temperatures and relentless heatwaves are on the rise and can pose serious risks to our health. Not surprisingly, our Doctors have treated a record number of patients affected by heat associated illness over the Summer months.

Broader data also indicates that hospital admissions due to the effects of heat have also increased and sadly heat related illness is fatal in some cases.

However, there’s a range of things we can all do to prevent heat related health issues. The World Health Organisation’s recommendations include:

· Limiting sun exposure during the middle of the day

· Drinking lots of water

· Wearing lightweight loose fitting cotton clothing

· Using sunscreen

· Eating fruits and vegetables

· Avoiding heavy meals, alcohol and too much caffeine

· Refraining from smoking, and,

· Knowing the signs and symptoms of heat disorders.


Our Doctors also recommend

· During intense heat periods keep in touch with loved ones, ie elderly relatives who live alone

· Parents please keep a very close eye on babies and children, offer extra fluids, dress lightly and ensure bedding is appropriate

· Never leave children or older people unattended in a car

· Don’t wait for thirst, hydrate regularly

· Keep cool with the help of air-conditioning, fans, natural airflow or cool showers

· Pick the coolest time of the day to be active

· If you take medications, ensure they are stored correctly

· See your Doctor if you or your family experience the symptoms below or become worried. Alternatively call 000.


What are the symptoms of heat associated illness?

· Children may show signs of irritability and/or have fewer wet nappies

· Feeling lightheaded, confused, weak

· Existing medical conditions become worse/deteriorate

· Rash or skin irritation

· Cramps, pains, spasms

· Dizziness

· Fainting

· Severe exhaustion

· Rapid heart rate

· Headache

· Nausea and vomiting

· Excessive sweating


What you need to know about heatstroke

Heatstroke is a medical emergency and requires urgent attention. Call 000!

Heatstroke occurs when the core body temperature rises beyond a certain point. Once this happens the body’s internal systems start to shut down. Therefore, body temperature must be reduced as soon as possible to avoid organ damage.

Symptoms may be the same or similar to those of heat exhaustion but the skin may be dry (no sweating). The central nervous system will be impacted, often causing seizures and delirium, staggering, unconsciousness, confusion and the patient’s mental condition worsens.